Bush is proposing to cut health care for veterans:
"At least tens of thousands of veterans with non-critical medical issues could suffer delayed or even denied care in coming years to enable President Bush to meet his promise of cutting the deficit in half — if the White House is serious about its proposed budget.
After an increase for next year, the Bush budget would turn current trends on their head. Even though the cost of providing medical care to veterans has been growing by leaps and bounds, White House budget documents assume a cutback in 2008 and further cuts thereafter.
In fact, the proposed cuts are so draconian that it seems to some that the White House is simply making them up to make its long-term deficit figures look better. More realistic numbers, however, would raise doubts as to whether Bush can keep his promise to wrestle the deficit under control by the time he leaves office.
"Either the administration is proposing gutting VA health care over the next five years or it is not serious about its own budget," said Rep. Chet Edwards (news, bio, voting record) of Texas, top Democrat on the panel overseeing the VA's budget. "If the proposals aren't serious, then that would undermine the administration's argument that they intend to reduce the deficit in half over the next several years."
In fact, the White House doesn't seem serious about the numbers. It says the long-term budget numbers don't represent actual administration policies. Similar cuts assumed in earlier budgets have been reversed.
"Instead, the president's subsequent budgets have increased funding for all of these programs," said White House budget office spokesman Scott Milburn. "The country can meet the goal of cutting the deficit in half and still invest in key programs for vulnerable Americans, and claims to the contrary aren't supported by the facts of recent budget history." (...)
"The only way you can do what they want to do in terms of actually cutting the budget is to throw a lot of veterans out who are already in the system and/or redefine who is a veteran," said Rick Weidman, director of government relations for the Vietnam Veterans of America."
Oh goody: redefining 'veteran' in order to deprive veterans of health care. Remember when people got all bent out of shape about Clinton's claim that "it all depends on what the meaning of the word 'is' is"? I'd rather worry about my President's views on 'is' than about his redefining 'veteran', or 'rebuild New Orleans', or 'checks and balances', or 'imminent threat'.
In any case: either the President is proposing to cut health care for the very soldiers he sent into harm's way in his war of choice, or he's just lying so that he can make the numbers look good. Like the AP, I tend to the latter view. But two things are worth remembering. The first is that there's nothing that says that politicians have to lie. And until this administration, people did not assume that politicians would lie about things like this, or pretend that their tax cuts were meant to expire to avoid coming clean about their costs, and so on. Bush said that he wanted to restore trust and integrity to the White House. Ha ha ha.
The second point is not mentioned in the article, but it's crucial: there are, basically, two ways of cutting the deficit. Either we make spending go down, or we make revenue go up. Yet in most of the coverage of the deficit that I read in the papers, people talk as though there were only one way: spending cuts. This is wrong, and ignoring it makes it seem as though we face choices we do not actually face: for instance, the choice between veterans' health care and deficits. In reality, if we simply fail to extend some of the Bush tax cuts, we'll have enough money to give our veterans the health care they deserve while cutting the deficit. And we can do it without lying.